In 1994, one year after his death, Reginald F. Lewis released his biography Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?, a chronicle of his experience feeling virtually invisible in the business world. Lewis was the first Black man to build a billion-dollar U.S. company, yet his name and face were and continue to be largely unknown. The book outlines the struggles he faced as a Black man in what he calls “a white man’s world.”
Too little has changed since Lewis’ passing. Black Americans are often forgotten from history. They are often overlooked and squeezed out—and, thus, not granted the same opportunities. There are only four Black CEOs of S&P 500 companies (it’ll be five in March, when the sole Black female CEO takes the helm), only 9% of businesses are Black owned and roughly 1% of Black-owned businesses have received venture capital funding. Lewis’ story is one of Black wealth, a history that continues to be skewed. For(bes) The Culture is on a mission to change that.
We’re setting out to accurately define, rectify and create Black history. Our State of Black Entrepreneurship project is multifaceted: It incorporates historical research that will unveil decades of forgotten and omitted Black business successes, plus new quantitative data and original multimedia storytelling that will illustrate how Black entrepreneurship stands across industries today—as well as where it’s headed.
Here’s where much of the rectifying will come in: February, the coldest and shortest month of the year, has long been considered a time to celebrate Black history and support the Black community. We’re rallying entrepreneurs, executives, celebrities and fellow changemakers to join our campaign to move this observance to June—a time when Black businesses can better capitalize. June is the month when Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., is celebrated. Last year, on the heels of George Floyd’s murder at the end of May, it was also the month in which much of the world faced a heightened reckoning with racial injustice. We recognize that June is also Pride Month. We intend to complement ongoing efforts to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, shedding light on the importance of intersectionality and collective liberation.
But a month, regardless of what month, shouldn’t be the only time we choose to celebrate, honor and support Black Americans. Because Black history is American history. For(bes) The Culture and its community of trailblazers intends to be at the forefront of making this a ubiquitous reality. The fate of future Reginald F. Lewises depend on it.